George Gilbert Scott junior (middle Scott), 1839 – 97
George junior’s output was small and a number of his major works were destroyed in the war but his son Giles consider him
‘a genius – a far better architect than my grandfather…..’
A scholar at Eton, George worked for seven years in his father’s office before going, at the late age of 24, up to Jesus Cambridge to read Moral Sciences, obtaining a first and going on to win the Burney prize for an anti-Darwinian essay comparing church teaching to recent scientific theories. He was elected to a fellowship of Jesus, but was obliged to relinquish this on his marriage in 1872.
While at Cambridge, George junior worked with his father on commissions at King’s and at Peterhouse where he restored the Hall and Combination Room. At St John’s, Henry Hoare (of Staplehurst) imposed an English church tower on George senior’s design of a fine C13th French style chapel, but the new master’s lodge is clearly the work of his son. George junior helped his mentor, G.F. Bodley, his father’s first pupil and a decade his senior, to restore Jesus college chapel using the services of the recently founded Morris & C° to decorate the new roofs. He also added a new block at Pembroke and extended the Wren chapel.
George designed the imposing Catholic cathedral in Norwich and several churches and secular buildings but his finest works: All Hallows Southwark and St Agnes, Kennington, were destroyed by bombs.
Unlike his father who preferred:
‘Middle English Pointed’,
George junior’s preference was for later perpendicular Gothic for his churches and Queen Anne for secular, both buildings styles his father would have esteemed
In 1874 George with G.F. Bodley and his partner Thomas Garner – another ex-pupil of George senior – set up Watts & Co to provide furnishings for their buildings, using designs inspired in the early days from the backdrops to early Flemish paintings. His father’s substantial inheritance in 1878 enabled him to provide capital for this venture but its involvement in ‘trade’ forced him to resign from the RIBA.
George junior had a strong sense of aesthetic, not only in buildings, wall coverings and furniture but also in music, apparel and even humans. At a dinner in 1871, he dressed in
‘black knee breeks, black silk stockings, high-heeled shoes with large buckles, blue coat, yellow vest, white neck cloth with stiffener and frilled shirt’.
In his later years he was to be seen with his architects dividers seeking to establish the measurements of the perfect female form….
With his new wife, Ellen King Sampson of a Sussex land-owning family, met on a beach at Eastbourne, they took a house at 26, Church Rd. Hampstead, an elegant street where both Bodley and Garner already lived. The underground had yet to be built so he would have suffered the same difficulties as his father reaching his office in 7, Duke Street.
In 1880 he became a Roman Catholic – a step out of keeping for a member of such an austere evangelical family and one that obliged him to relinquish several of his architectural commissions. Three years later his unstable behaviour caused him to be confined to the Bethlem lunatic hospital from which he escaped through the laundry window and made his way to Rouen. His wife and brothers had had him certified of unsound mind in Britain, but the French authorities judged otherwise which led George to enquire
‘where in crossing the channel do I lose my wits?’
Returning to Britain, he took to drink and was intermittently interned. The family went to live in Sussex, his loyal pupil Temple Moore and younger brother Oldrid completed the commissions outstanding and in 1897 George died in the Midland Hotel, designed by his father, where he had taken up permanent residence.